WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night removed an ordinance that would have limited the amount of pot plants per household in the city limits and voted unanimously to defeat an ordinance on second reading that would have increased water rates for residential pot and commercial flower, vegetable and other plant growers. During the finance committee work session held prior to the regular meeting, Travis Nelson of the Colorado Cannabis Association, told council members, “If you go through with this (Ordinance # 1079) we’ll recall any of you who support this… you can count on it.” Some members of the city council visibly bristled with anger over the overt political action threat, which Nelson later backed away from. Nelson told council the provisions of the proposed ordinance was in direct violation of Amendment 64. The ordinance, which was presented in two versions, would attempt to limit the amount of marijuana plants any single adult could grow, establishing a limit per household. While city attorney Dan Hyatt wrote the ordinances under the direction of the city council, he had said, more than once in previous meetings, he believed the proposed limits would likely face a court challenge. The proposed ordinance is seen as a way for the city to get a handle on suspected grey and
black market growing operations in Walsenburg. Nelson said he would be happy to work with the city and suggested the council establish a marijuana committee to address the controversial issues. The proposed amendment was removed from the agenda, with Mayor Eccher and council members Silvana Lind and Clint Boehler making it clear they were not bowing to the recall threat voiced by Nelson. Ordinance 1080, which would have amended Ordinance 1056 and allowed the city to establish higher water rates for greenhouses and warehouses used for the purpose of growing plants for commercial purposes was defeated unanimously on second reading. The amending ordinance would have added language to the original ordinance specifically dealing with the growing of marijuana plants. The city council is expected to go back to the drawing board regarding local marijuana ordinances, and plan to review the ordinances enacted in communities like Denver and Pueblo that limit the number of marijuana plants grown per household. Huerfano County has enacted local legislation that limits the number of recreational marijuana plants grown per household in the unincorporated parts of the county to 12, no matter how many adults live at the residence. Nelson said he believed this action too, was in violation of Amendment 64. In other marijuana news, the city and Martra Holdings Inc., earlier in the day on Tuesday, finalized the land sale between the city and the firm for approximately 330 acres located within the newly annexed section of City Ranch. In other business, the council voted 8-1 to approve the city’s participation in the Best and Brightest program through the University of Colorado and the Department of Local Affairs that will see the city hire a current CU grad student in public administration as an intern for the administration department. The cost will be $37,500 per year for two years, with $20,000 reimbursed each year by DOLA. Council member Nick Vigil voted against participation. City council decided to begin budget meetings for the 2016 budget next week with the first work session slated to begin at 6 pm Tuesday, Oct. 27 at city hall.